The ANC will be walking into the election for the new Johannesburg mayor on Wednesday with confidence as it has managed to woo the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) into a coalition and is now fighting to snatch Tshwane from the DA.
An ANC insider said that in the past few weeks, the party had been able to sway the IFP to ditch its coalition with the DA.
The ANC councillor said the agreement was made on the basis that the IFP would not be dethroned at the AbaQulusi Municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The IFP no longer occupies the majority in the AbaQulusi council with the ANC having recently won wards in by-elections in the area.
The ANC has 22 seats, the IFP 18, the DA three and the EFF one.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa could neither confirm nor deny the partnership but said the national executive committee (NEC) had to rubber stamp a suitable way forward.
“The party has made a decision, which is the mandate that will be given to councillors. The matter [on whether to vote with the ANC] has been deferred to tomorrow’s NEC,” he said.
The new Johannesburg mayor was supposed to be elected on Thursday, but chaos and drama ensued at the city’s council chambers following a decision by the speaker, Vasco da Gama, to postpone the voting process to Wednesday.
Da Gama cited a need for legal opinion on the interpretation of the Municipal Structures Act and council rules on council majority.
He said council rules stipulated a 50% plus one majority rule in council elections but there was ambiguity in the Municipal Structures Act.
The leader of ANC-aligned Al Jam-ah, Ganief Hendricks, said the postponement was an underhand move by the EFF and DA, which were “in cahoots”.
A council member said the EFF deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, might have advised the DA to postpone the sitting after the expected deal which the red berets had with the ANC went sour.
“When the issue regarding the majority was raised, the EFF spoke to the DA about delaying the vote,” the source said.
The DA denied the allegations, stating that the decision was made to benefit council.
DA Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty supported Da Gama after the sitting on Thursday, saying the postponement was the correct thing to do.
The last thing you want to have is for an election to take place and then somebody who doesn’t win will suddenly go to court
The source said the EFF wanted a chaotic scene in Tshwane and Johannesburg because they would be left without political leadership before any voting could take place.
The EFF said last week it wanted to take control of either Johannesburg or Tshwane and said this was the only condition for it to go into a coalition with any opposition party.
On the other hand, Hendricks said the EFF welcomed Da Gama’s postponement because it would buy time for it to negotiate with the DA.
Al Jam-ah has only one seat in council but it used this to put pressure on the ANC to change Sandton Drive to Leila Khaled Drive if the ruling party’s candidate was elected mayor in the City of Johannesburg.
Khaled was a renowned Palestinian fighter and hijacker.
Following the fallout in council on Thursday, the ANC said it would take legal action against Da Gama.
However, the party later backtracked to allow Lebogang Maile, MEC for the human settlements, urban planning, cooperative governance and traditional affairs department, to intervene.
Maile wrote a formal letter to the City of Johannesburg’s council speaker about what he called the “abrupt postponement” of the council meeting.
He said it was clear that Da Gama’s postponement of the sitting “was not only a frontal attack on council members, but deliberate abuse of power”.
Maile gave Da Gama seven days to explain his actions, before he could exercise his statutory powers to deal with the “unbecoming and unlawful conduct of the speaker”.
A source within the ANC told City Press that it would not change its candidate, Geoff Makhubo, because it believed he was the right man for the job.
Makhubo has been accused of benefiting from a R30 million tender from the City of Johannesburg.
“The integrity commission of the ANC did not find Geoff guilty, so we do not understand why the DA keeps on bringing it up,” the councillor said.
In Tshwane, the ANC turned to its legal team to solve the leadership crisis following a botched attempt to get rid of mayor Stevens Mokgalapa.
The EFF and the ANC tabled motions to oust the mayor, who they accused of failing to provide services in Tshwane.
The governing party, with the EFF, marched out of the council chambers after Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe said there was no ground for a motion of no confidence against the mayor.
The letter from Makhubela Attorneys, dated November 28, said the motion submitted by the ANC satisfied the rules as set out by council and it should be passed.
“Failure to pass the motion will leave our client with no option but to approach the high court on an urgent basis and interdict against your unlawful conduct,” the letter read.
The ANC has 89 seats in the Tshwane council and, with the support of the EFF’s 25 seats, it would be able to unseat Mokgalapa, even if the smaller parties voted with the DA.
The DA has 93 seats, the Freedom Front Plus four, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People and the Pan Africanist Party of Azania each have one.
EFF leader Julius Malema said last week the party’s intention to sever ties with the DA was clear and, if a new mayor was voted into council, the red berets would be the kingmakers.
The DA’s chances have been dwindling by the day with sources saying infighting was on the increase.